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The responses from readers taking part in the latest Financial Planning Today survey demonstrated the wide variety of business areas that Financial Planners advise on and transact.


This is an edited section of the feature which can be read in full and for free here.

Predictably, the vast majority both advised and transacted Financial Planning services, close to 95%, but a number of other areas were handled by planning firms. Some 40% advised on or transacted auto-enrolment, equity release or corporate Financial Planning. Close to 95% said they transacted and advised on wraps/platforms and over nearly 95% did tax planning.

Some 91% transacted and advised on SIPPs and SSAS. Investment/portfolio management (91%) and pension transfers (88%) were also strongly represented.

However, some planners were unhappy with provider service in some areas.

One area of unrest appears to be in the service from platforms with more than one in five planners looking to change provider.

Some 6.7% of planners considered service levels to be “very poor” and said they were “actively seeking a new platform.”

The vast majority (65%) said platforms could do better.

Just 13% said the service they received was “excellent.”

Surprisingly, one area where planners appear to be taking a potential hurdle in their stride was regulation.

Despite the FCA’s recently announced major review of financial advice many viewed the review as positive.

Close to 70% said it was the right thing to do with 30% harbouring reservations.

This was despite more than 54% of respondents stating that financial regulation costs, including the FSCS and Financial Ombudsman, were a key challenge.

The main issue for many was the rising cost of professional indemnity insurance (58%).

This was followed by the FCA’s review of financial advice, competition from new and existing competitors (17.7%), competition from robo-advisers (10.8%) and sale or exit from business (9.5%).

Other answers included Brexit, MiFID II, increased market volatility and competing with unethical rivals.

The survey also showed the wide variation in the size of firms.

Many are still small with just one or two staff but there is growth among bigger firms, likely driven by a recent wave of mergers and acquisitions.

Marginally the second most popular answer (after one or two employees on 18%) was six to 10 employees at 17% of respondents, but this was closely followed by larger firms of more than 100 employees on 14.5%, tied with firms employing 11 to 25 staff.

The typical size of client portfolios varied greatly, with a range of less than £100,000 (9.5%) to £10m+ (1.3%).

The most popular answers were £350,001 to £500,000 and £500,001 to £1m (both 26%).

The next most popular answer was £250,001 to £350,000 (17.6%)

The vast majority expressed satisfaction with professional bodies like the PFS and CISI.

The full feature and survey results can be read for free here.

Cost cutting helped SIPP provider Mattioli Woods maintain modest profit growth over the past 12 months in the face of market challenges and a dip in revenue.

SIPPs and SSAS firm Talbot and Muir has warned that a number of SSAS arrangements face “significant costs and delays” on transfers to a more suitable vehicle, such as a SIPP.


SSAS arrangements continue to be popular with advisers and their clients but at times it becomes necessary to transfer to a SIPP, the firm says. 

This may be due to the sale of the sponsoring employer or other personal reasons. 

Talbot and Muir says many who decide to transfer their SSAS benefits but wish to retain certain assets such as property are faced with unjustified charges and administrative delays.

 

While SSAS’s are not regulated by the FCA the firm said it “seems unfair” clients are not protected by the FCA’s fair treatment of clients Outcome 6, whereby consumers do not face unreasonable post-sale barriers imposed by firms to change product or provider.
 
David Bonneywell, director, Talbot and Muir, said: “We are seeing a marked increase in the enquiries received from IFA’s in respect of SSAS schemes that wish to move to a SIPP. 

“One reason for the contact is that these schemes are facing very high costs to transfer and they are looking to see if there are ways to minimise this. 

“Current administrators appear to be unhelpful with regards to the transfer and are putting restrictive internal red tape in place, in particular when a property is involved. 
 
“A number of advisers are now recommending that the SSAS changes administrator and professional trustee, and then effects a transfer to a SIPP in a cost efficient and timely manner.”

SIPPs and SSAS firm Talbot and Muir has boosted assets and SIPPs.

The results for the half year to 30 June revealed continued growth with an 18% increase in new SIPP cases and a 58% increase in SSAS cases for the same period in 2018.

Meanwhile, assets under administration increased to £2.86bn and projected current year EBITDA was £1.8m with a 20% increase in the number of advisers using the firm.

Recurring income now represents 88% of turnover.
 
The firm says the SIPP and SSAS sector continues to be competitive with advisers using them for not only their complex cases but also for single asset or DFM options.

Despite the change of direction of some SIPP providers towards the platform market, Talbot and Muir says it is benefiting from “the vacuum left behind” and has benefited from a “growing number of Introducers who prefer the open architecture and personal service of a ‘pure SIPP’ which is often a cheaper solution than offered via a platform”.
 


Brian Talbot, director, Talbot and Muir, said: “We pride ourselves on our service and the value of our products and unlike some of our larger competitors we are making a genuine profit.

“We believe that the SIPP and SSAS sector will continue to grow but that there is likely to be more consolidation and we remain acquisitive for good quality books of business that will enhance our position as a leading independent provider.
 
“We have doubled the size of our office space, having recently moved to a new 10,000 square feet office within Nottingham city centre.   

“The new space is contemporary, open-plan and will enable us to continue growing as we appoint new staff to ensure service levels are maintained.  

“We are upgrading our back office systems with Delta which will continue to improve the portal functionality and client/adviser reporting that we offer.
 
“There has been a 20% increase in the number of new advisers using us for the first time as they look to review their SIPP and SSAS administrators to ensure they remain committed to the market and are continuing to innovate and invest in their businesses.”
Chartered Financial Planner Gavin Wood of Beckett Financial Services, in Suffolk, talks about how a SSAS was used to good effect to help two business owners sort out their business and personal planning.
SIPPs firm GPC SIPP Ltd has gone into administration.
Mattioli Woods to expand SIPPs availability in Northern Ireland with £4m acquistion of Belfast-based SSAS Solutions.
Xafinity SIPP and SSAS has cut fees on its SimplySIPP product and upgraded technology for advisers.
Xafinity SIPP and SSAS Services, part of the XPS Pensions Group, has reported an increased level of activity in commercial property transactions in 2018.
SIPPs and SSAS specialist Dentons Pension Management has announced the appointment of David Fox to its board in recognition of his contribution to the business. 
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